New Azure SQL Database Service Tiers

Microsoft’s Eron Kelly has recently blogged about Azure SQL Database introduces new service tiers, where the existing Web and Business service tiers will be replaced in twelve months, as they are gradually replaced by six new service tiers, including Basic, Standard 1, Standard 2, Premium 1, Premium 2, and Premium 3. There will be differences in the “self-recovery” level and geo-replication levels across the SKUs.

Here are a couple of new acronyms for you to learn:

Database Throughput Unit (DTU): The resources powering each performance level are represented in DTUs. It combines CPU, memory, physical reads, and transaction log writes into a single unit. A performance level with 5 DTUs has five times more power than a performance level with 1 DTU. The “Database Throughput Unit” (DTU) represents database power and is meant to replace hardware specifications in the context of Azure SQL Database. 

Azure SQL Database Benchmark (ASDB): ASDB measures the actual throughput of a performance level by using a mix of database operations which occur most frequently in online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads.

Table 1 shows some relevant information about these new Azure SQL Database service tiers.

Service Tier Monthly Cost/DB Database Size Limit DTU/Database ASDB Transactions/Minute
Basic $4.99 2GB 1 DTU 58
Standard 1 $40.00 250GB 5 DTU 283
Standard 2 $200.00 250GB 25 DTU 1,470
Premium 1 $930.00 500GB 100 DTU 5,880
Premium 2 $1,860.00 500GB 200 DTU 11,520
Premium 3 $7,440.00 500GB 800 DTU 43,800

Table 1: Azure SQL Database Service Tiers

While the new service tiers are in a “preview” status, pricing will be 50% lower than what is shown in Table 1. You can read more about pricing details here. I am most interested in exploring the information disclosed in the new Azure SQL Database Service Tiers and Performance Levels, blog post, since it give us some more concrete information about what a DTU is. There is also some more detailed information about the new ASDB in the Azure SQL Database Benchmark Overview.

Most Recent Cumulative Updates for SQL Server 2008-2014

Here are the most recent cumulative updates for SQL Server 2014, 2012, 2008 R2 and 2008 (as of June 27, 2014)

SQL Server 2014 RTM CU2 (12.0.2370)           released on June 27, 2014

Microsoft has now released the second cumulative update for SQL Server 2014 RTM, which has 48 hotfixes by my count from the KB article. These include most of the hotfixes from SQL Server 2012 through SP1 CU10. If you are getting ready to deploy a new SQL Server 2014 instance, I really think you want to be on SQL Server 2014 RTM CU2.

SQL Server 2012 RTM CU11 (11.0.2424)          released on December 16, 2013  (this is the last one for the RTM branch)

SQL Server 2012 SP1 CU10 (11.0.3431)           released on May 19, 2014 (On SQL Server 2012, this is where you want to be, in my opinion)

SQL Server 2012 SP2 RTM (11.0.5058)            released on  June 19, 2014 (I would wait for SQL Server 2012 SP2 CU1 before you move to this branch)

If you are on SQL Server 2012, only Service Pack 1 and Service Pack 2 are still officially a “supported service pack”. The RTM branch is no longer a “supported service pack”.

SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 CU12 (10.50.4305)     released on April 21, 2014

If you are on SQL Server 2008 R2, only Service Pack 2 is still a “supported service pack”. All other branches are retired.

SQL Server 2008 SP3 CU17 (10.0.5861)           released on May 19, 2014  (this is the final CU for SQL Server 2008 SP3)

If you are on SQL Server 2008, only Service Pack 3 is still a “supported service pack”. All other branches are retired.

For a number of months, I was very curious about whether there would be a SQL Server 2008 SP4 and/or a SQL Server 2008 R2 SP3 before both SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 fall out of mainstream support on July 8, 2014?  Especially for people who don’t believe in deploying cumulative updates, the SQL Server 2008 SP3 RTM build and the SQL Server 2008 R2 SP2 RTM build are going to be quite ancient (and missing a lot of very important fixes) by July 8, 2014.

June 2, 2014 Update: On May 29, Microsoft announced that there will be final Service Packs for both SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2, that will be released some time after July 8, 2014. This is very welcome news that I really appreciate!

So, to recap, if you are getting ready to deploy SQL Server 2014, you should install SQL Server 2014 RTM CU2.  If you are on SQL Server 2012, you should be on the SP1 branch by now (even though SP2 is now available). If you are on SQL Server 2008 R2, you should be on the SP2 branch, since SP1 and RTM are retired. If you are on SQL Server 2008, you should be on the SP3 branch, since all previous branches are retired. All of SQL Server 2005 is out of mainstream support, but if you are still on SQL Server 2005, you should be on SP4.

Learn About SQL Server Hardware in Chicago

On May 5-6, 2014, I will be teaching IEHW: Immersion Event on SQL Server Hardware in Chicago, IL. This is a great opportunity for you to learn how to properly select and configure your server hardware and storage subsystem to get the best performance and scalability for the lowest SQL Server 2012/2014 licensing costs.

Now that SQL Server 2014 is generally available, and Windows Server 2012 R2 has been available for over six months, combined with the release of the 2nd generation Intel Xeon E5 and E7 processor families, I think that it is going to make a lot of sense for many organizations to do a complete data platform refresh sometime during 2014. By making wise hardware selection choices, you can easily save so much money on your SQL Server 2012/2014 licensing costs, that your actual server hardware is free.

This two-day SQL Server hardware training class explains the core fundamentals and deeper details of database server hardware and storage subsystems for SQL Server database professionals. Many database professionals are unfamiliar with the details and nuances of modern server hardware and storage subsystems, while many server and storage administrators are unfamiliar with the specific workload demands of a SQL Server database server.

Attendees of this class will learn how to analyze, select, and size their server hardware and storage subsystems for different types of SQL Server workloads in order to get the best performance and scalability while minimizing their SQL Server 2012/2014 license costs.

This class also covers how to properly configure and benchmark your database server hardware and storage subsystems, along with how to properly install and configure the operating system and SQL Server for the best performance and reliability. The class will show you how to diagnose and troubleshoot hardware and storage related performance issues, and will include coverage of how virtualization interacts with your database server hardware and storage subsystem. Note: the primary audience for this class is SQL Server database professionals, not general system/server admins who are already familiar with server/storage hardware.

I think it is very important for database administrators to know as much as possible about the critical details of their server hardware and storage subsystem, rather than trusting their fate to “Shon the server guy”, who may or may not know that much about modern server hardware (maybe he is a networking specialist). Even if Shon is very knowledgeable about hardware, he may not understand the different demands that SQL Server will create with different types of workloads. I want you to be able to successfully make the case for selecting the best hardware and storage subsystem components for your workload and budget.  You can read more about the registration details here.

Special Pricing Options and Referrals
  • Past attendee price: If you’ve attended an Immersion Event in the past, you can register any time for 75% of the full price ($1,099). Please contact us for instructions.
  • Refer someone: If you know someone who would benefit from this class, refer them to us and when they register, we’ll give you a $50 Amazon gift card. They or you just need to let us know you’re referring them, and when they register, we’ll match them to your referral and send you the gift card.